Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Friend In Deed

I've learned a lot about friendship over the last couple of years. Having ALS, needing the support of friends, depending on the kindness of those around me; these things have been very educational. In this learning process, I've often reflected on the old saying that "a friend in need is a friend indeed." It's an interesting turn of words; I love a good use of phrasing and words. The idea that false friends will fail you but true friends are reliable is as old as mankind.

"A friend in need." You can read that two ways; a friend when I am in need, or a friend who is in need calling out for help and trusting that I will be there. I have been in need greatly over the last couple of years. The group of people who've stood beside me, helped me when I called, quite literally carrying me at times; these people are my friends, these people are the ones who I trust to be there. At the same time, I know that each of these people would feel safe in calling me, trusting me to do whatever I could to help them in their time of need, trusting me to listen, to share their burdens with them in whatever way I can.

What amazes me, on a constant basis, is how this group of people will forgive me, and how I will forgive them. They take me as I am, warts, loudness, indiscretions and all. And, to be fair, I do the same with them, although I truly believe they have the tougher side of the bargain. After all, how many times have they called me to ask me to carry them up their stairs? How many times have they asked me to run over to the store and pick up groceries for them? How many of them have needed help getting onto a bed or off of a toilet?

It's not easy being friends with someone who has ALS. First of all, the progressive nature of this illness means I am less and less able to be a friend indeed. As my needs increase, I simply cannot do what I once could do. Sure, they can still borrow my truck, but I can't help them move. Sure, they can still come for parties and dinners, but I no longer do the cooking. Secondly, I struggle with my emotions more and more as I become less and less of what I once was. That surely comes out; it is more than visible.

My friends, my "friends indeed" are also my "friends in deed." They act on that word "friend", giving it meaning and life. I feel that they love me, that they truly care, that they will be there for me, that they will forgive my failings. I just wish I could return that friendship fully.

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